Now that much of the hoopla around quinoa has subsided and the “superfood” spotlight that focused on it—ensuring it was flogged so thoroughly in the media that the mention of its name almost took on a punitive note—has moved on to the Next Big Thing, it’s a good time to quietly bring it back into the light.
Andean in its origins and eaten for centuries in Bolivia and Peru, quinoa’s nutritional qualities are impressive. Quinoa is a complete protein—the only plant food to contain all essential amino acids. It also contains high levels of minerals and vitamins (E and B12) compared to other grains. With these credentials, incorporating quinoa into recipes makes a dish’s nutritional value rocket. Just ask NASA which includes quinoa as part of its astronauts’ diet and has it at the top of the list as a possible crop for long-duration space missions. Those who are sensitive to or intolerant of gluten will know that quinoa doesn’t contain gliadin proteins, which makes it safe for coeliacs.
In this recipe, Lesley Russell creates a quick and clever crumb of quinoa for fish, which cooks to a lovely golden colour. The key to the recipe’s success? “Use thin fillets of fish that will cook through in the same time as it takes to cook the quinoa on the outside.” Says Lesley. “White fish, such as flathead, trevally or snapper are good choices.” The fish is finished with a fresh, flavour-enhancing citrus salt, which would also make a great gift. If, like Lesley, you don’t like waste, use the whole orange and lemon—zested to make the salt—by making an olive oil and citrus dressing; toss it through some green leaves to make a light, bright side for the fish.
- Weigh 150 grams of quinoa into the mixing bowl and process 4 seconds/Turbo to create crushed quinoa. Set aside in a wide shallow container.
- Weigh the remaining 150 grams of quinoa into the mixing bowl, but this time mill 1 minute/speed 9 to form flour. Set aside in a second wide shallow container.
- Break the eggs into a third container and add an equivalent amount of the milk or water. Whisk together thoroughly with a fork.
- Coat the fish fillets first in the flour, then in the egg mix and finally with the coarse quinoa— being sure to press it on firmly. The fish can be refrigerated at this stage until later if you like.
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan until shimmering. Lower the fish in and cook gently on one side until golden brown. Turn it gently and then cook on the other side.
- Remove the fish to paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Serve scattered with citrus salt and spring herbs.
- Heat the oven to 100C. Remove the zest from the lemon and orange and place on an oven tray. Dry the zest in the oven for 15–20 minutes; it should be thoroughly dried but not browned.
- 2. Mill the dried zest 40 seconds/speed 9, then add the salt and mix 5 seconds/Reverse/speed 3.
AND … The same approach can be used for chicken schnitzels.
AND … The salt will improve in flavour as it stands, so if you can make it a few days ahead so much the better. Store in a dry place. It will keep for months.